Carolina has now entered the "division matchup" portion of their schedule. There are 13 games in November, and 11 are against SE division rivals. Oddly, the other two are against Philly.
Carolina played poorly and deserved to lose on Wednesday. There's not much debate over that issue. When they were victimized by a couple of very shady tripping calls, everyone from the players to the coaches to the TV guys to the GM accused referee Brad Watson of being influenced by things written in the South Florida newspapers. It seems awfully coincidental that the very day that numerous articles are written about Carolina being divers, they get two diving penalties in one period. Chad LaRose got blindsided off the puck by Olli Jokinen and Justin Williams gets flat out tackled by Nathan Horton. Each time, the Carolina player was called for diving, which negated what would have been a power play.
That said, Carolina had three other power play chances, and none of them looked good. Meanwhile, their power play stank.
Jim Rutherford asked the League to review the diving calls made against Carolina, and probably attached newspaper clippings and a post-it note saying "Was Watson influenced by these?" Colin Campbell, whose job also entails the levying of player suspensions, reviews the performance of on-ice officials. His son, for what it's worth, plays for the Panthers.
According to Lord Stanley's Blog this morning, Jim Rutherford is more charged up about this than any other game, any other rivalry. And he's got "nothing to say" to Panthers head coach and GM Jacques Martin
"This is the strongest I've felt about an issue," Rutherford said. "We can sit there game after game and disagree with the other team or the officiating. This is as strong as I've ever felt about an issue."
Rutherford is aware, though, that these battles need to be fought on the ice. This is between the Hurricanes and the Panthers. This isn't between the News & Observer and the Sun-Times Sentinel, or whatever other paper covers the Kitties. He did, though, leave one little nugget:
"I'm afraid to say anything because I don't know who's going to read what I might say," Rutherford said, continuing to imply that Martin's comments influenced referee Brad Watson.
"I don't have anything to say to him. He uses different ways to motivate his team. I take it this is a way he's decided to motivate his team to play us. In the past we've been able to play in spurts or play one period in a game and beat Florida. In this particular game, it wasn't just the team we had to beat, so we fell short."
Whoever happens to be officiating tonight's game won't see that. It isn't in the print edition of the N&O.
The lineup cards haven't been sent yet, so I don't know who will be officiating. Brad Watson didn't work an NHL game last night.
I think Rutherford might have had a little meeting with coach Laviolette to let Lavi know how he feels about this game.
There may be some chippiness in this game. To be honest, I wouldn't mind. Everybody's eager to get right back on the ice and make amends for what was a pretty bad game. As for the stuff in the newspapers, Tim Gleason had the best "no comment" line on the Hurricanes website:
“With all the stuff they’ve been saying in the newspapers, it’s a bunch of garbage,” said Tim Gleason. “If they want to do some talking, let’s do it on the ice and not in the paper."
Couple that sentiment with Rutherford's, and I sort of expect to see this team go all Tom Osborne, Bill Belichick on the Kitties. I'm not in favor of a team -- even at the professional level -- "running up the score", but if the opportunity presents itself tonight I'd love to see it.
A little bird just told me that Tim Peel will be one of the officials tonight. I'll fill in the rest later.